Let’s Partee with Tarlee…

Business at the front…

Hello friends! Hello little blog, I’ve missed you. It’s been Covid (both of us, boo!), several colds, a dodgy haircut , zero overseas adventures and many sewing fails long, and here we are. Nice to be back.

So to celebrate, a new top that is all business at the front…but lots of fun at the back. After seemingly endless rain and cold any party attitude is most welcome.

Some fun at the back.

The pattern I started with is the Tarlee tee by Muna and Broad  , a great versatile pattern I have made before . I really like the fit of this pattern, especially the curve over the back into the neckline, perfect for my terrible posture (I blame years of desk/computer work and an aversion to yoga)  


The fabric is a gorgeous merino from The Fabric Store , the back fabric is a lovely swishy Liberty print, the drape is perfect for the style and feels really nice to wear.

I made View A with long sleeves in size E, cutting across the back piece of the pattern approx. 3.5cm/1.5 inches below the armhole. I then cut the piece of Liberty the same length as the remaining length on the pattern, adding a seam allowance for adding to the top. The fabric is very soft and I knew it would gather well. I also knew I wanted plenty of volume at the back so the piece of fabric I cut and gathered was around 120 cm/47 inches wide. It felt way too much but once gathered up it is just right.

Just right …

Great with jeans and sneakers but I have worn this one to work with slim navy pants and my navy velvet ballet flats (only one person asked if I was wearing my slippers so that’s a win I guess…?)

So what else has been occurring at Plum Towers ? My lovely neighbour turned up with a large bag of oranges from her tree. Obviously when life gives you citrus you pour a gin. But AFTER that, you make Marmalade .

Where are you Paddington??

I use Ina Garten’s recipe  , instead of lemons I used three limes from our garden, so it’s a totally homegrown fruit situation. I didn’t have quite enough white sugar so I added some demuera sugar , its made the marmalade slightly darker, but I still think it looks delicious. It certainly tastes good, even if my peel is slightly thicker than some (my mother) might prefer!

Good enough for a royal sandwich , just sayin…

Given the season in Tamaki Makaurau, July often feels like a bit of a grind and this one is no different. But it IS perfect weather for TV/Movie/Books.

I’ve recently enjoyed two quite different reads. The first is The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand. It’s the first of her books I’ve read, I LOVE the Nantucket setting, plus a good mystery is right up my alley. Mr PK & I visited Nantucket a few years back, honestly, its like a film set! FYI they make amazing Bloody Mary’s on the ferry over from Hyannis ūüôā


Completely different is The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan, set in Mumbai. This is a charming mystery, with a lovely protagonist, the setting is so well described and who wouldn’t want a baby elephant as a side kick? 

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For viewing, we’ve also gone a bit eclectic…

I came to Stranger Things late, but oh my goodness, what a cracking show. The characters, the brilliant story, the CLOTHES, the MUSIC! the latest series is set in 1986, and some of the characters are exactly the same age I was in 1986, I’m certainly feeling the vibe. Also, Kate Bush people (I have a very soft spot for Wuthering Heights, won’t lie) 

I was so excited to find A Stitch in Time on Amazon Prime, I’ve been wanting to watch this for ages. Amber Butchart is often quoted on The Great British Sewing Bee so I was keen to see her own show. It’s a brilliant look at historic costuming and art history, plus Ambers fab outfits each week are worth a watch by themselves.

I think of mentioned this before but a new season of the Haptic & Hue podcast dropped in April, I so enjoy this one, Jo Andrews’ research is fantastic, and I always finish listening wanting to find out more.

Now before I go I must introduce you to the latest member of our whanau, friends meet Miss Lemon.  She is a delicate old lady whose owners cannot take care of her anymore. So she will live out her days in some comfort  with Tommy, Tuppence, and as many cuddles as she can handle. As you can see, its highly exciting…


Right, off to make Butter Chicken for dinner, Sunday night curry night,  get in!

Have a fabulous week 

Kristina x

Tarlee babeee…


Stardate Year 2021 day 4572….no wait, what? We made it to February? Yeow, whoop whoop , kiss me a kitten! Holidays done & dusted here, back at work, although thanks to Auckland Anniversary day and Waitangi day we have two long weekends on the trot, perfect. As you can see I need to spend at least one of those days in the jungle of my garden…¬†

So what has been occurring at Plum Towers? Well for starters please do admire my fancy new tee. This is the new Muna & Broad Tarlee tee.


Now, you might ask myself does the world need another tee pattern? Such a simple garment yes? Um no. From the perfect neckline (my sister & I have bored for England on this very topic, as only siblings can, she is V neck or die, I’m more flexible) to the perfect sleeve. I love an elbow length, which can be surprising hard to find in RTW. Fit is another can of worms altogether. I want a snug fit around my shoulders & bust, so it doesn’t look sloppy. I want a less snug fit around my waist & hips…



I love this pattern. I know not what drafting wizardry was involved, but I have a great fit through my shoulders & bust, with just the right “loose but not sloppy” fit through my lower torso. The curved hem is a cute finish, elevating this from a basic tee. I made the Size C, grading out to Size D at the waist & hips.

The pattern comes with notches for applying the neckline finish. This seems a much more sensible application than the quartering method, works much better for me anyway. Sadly my twin needle & I had a parting of ways, so the neckline isn’t finished perfectly…I need to get another needle, but I think I can zigzag this one to finish . My photographer was getting rather impatient so perfectly imperfect it is.

There is an option of a turtleneck , in various sizes, which when it cools down here, I shall definitely be making. Actually when I was growing up a turtleneck was called a skivvy, “it’s cold , put your skivvy on under your jumper”! Unlike the pattern, a turtleneck then came in one size only , tight! Many a neck was slightly strangled in the name of warmth (given the terrible heating most homes had it was probably a good thing!)¬†


I was gifted some beautiful merino from A & R Fabrics , the colour is Whiskey , appropriate for a Douglas. The softness (& lack of scratch) combined with a good “drape but not cling” are great for this tee. I thought the Whiskey would match perfectly with the mustard dots on my Willandra pants. If I’m standing around in the garden grinning inanely at the fence I want to be colour coordinated ok. Actually this is a perfect weekend outfit, comfy but smart enough for a casual lunch or BBQ (elastic waist for the win too)¬†

So other than tee shirt fun, what’s been going on?



My tomato plants have gone into high gear, as have the passionfruit. The limes are not far off either . I have “fond” memories of mid summer when I was a kid. I grew up in the burbs , Dad was a nurse & Mum looked after five of us & did a bit of cleaning work. As you can imagine money was tight, but we had the classic Kiwi Quarter acre section, and both my parents grew up knowing how to stretch a buck. Despite Mums best efforts to cover the whole section in flowers, Dad did carve out a vege garden, and we had prolific fruit trees. Which meant acres of Beef Steak tomatoes & Golden Queen peaches in summer. If there is a more thankless task than canning peaches or making tomato sauce in Auckland in January even now, I know not what it is, but back then?? Humidity in the high 90’s, no air con & ingrate children who wanted Watties like everyone else, I’m surprised Mum didn’t lose it completely. I do remember some frayed nerves…


I took the easy route & roasted my tomatoes with basil, oregano & thyme from the garden, a good splash of Olive oil, a few cloves of garlic & plenty of salt & pepper. 180C for about an hour


Push the whole lot through a mouli (or a sieve) & you have the most delicious roasted tomato passata, I popped mine in the freezer in small pottles, perfect for pizza sauce, pasta, and tomorrow nights patatas bravas, using potato’s I didn’t realize had actually survived the Auckland hose pipe ban!¬†


I hope January has been kind, or at least not too crappy My nephew and his lovely girlfriend in the UK contracted Covid over Xmas but have thankfully recovered. We are enjoying enormous freedom here in NZ, but I’m very aware we don’t have real freedom until everyone can be vaccinated & we can rid ourselves of this horrible disease.
So I’ll leave you with this. It was a joy to see President Biden and Vice President Harris enter the White House, but oh golly we were excited to see Major Biden , the first rescue dog to live at the White House! Here is his Indoguration, it’s all lovely, but especially at 15 mins in, Josh Grobin singing a lovely wee song. The best breed? Rescue every day (Tommy & Tuppence insist!)

We made it to February, have a fab week friends

Kristina xxx 

Because we need some comfort right now…



How are you doing? I wondered if it would seem rather ridiculous talking about a cardigan when the world is going to hell in  handcart. But I know, for me anyway, a little normality in the chaos, is absolutely what I need. And wine. Lotsa wine.

So we went to Level 3 here in NZ on Monday, with the directive we would be at Level 4 in 48 hours. That is basically STAY AT HOME & isolated with your “bubble” for all but essential workers. I’ve never worked from home before, but I managed to get a work PC & printer (because my own PC decided it would be a good time to sh*t itself, and I couldn’t get it fixed in time, yay!) & have a nice wee set up at home.

Health & Safety issue you say?

Mr D is also working from home, thankfully he has his own PC & laptop set up in his Man Lounge, so we are able to separate to work, meeting for lunch on the deck. Somehow I’ve ended up being barista, tea lady, lunch lady, chef & baker. At least I don’t have to empty the dishwasher (I draw the line!) I realize how incredibly lucky we both are to have our jobs & the opportunity to work at home comfortably. I have friends doing the mahi with kids at home, I don’t know how they do it!

My sister on her walk around the block yelling at me from the other side of the hedge! 

So one of the pieces of advice I read for those new to working from home is to have a routine, and finds ways of separating home distractions & work. My usual morning routine is me charging around the house, shower, dress, grab lunch & go. No breakfast (I’m not remotely hungry first thing) not even coffee until I get to work.

I saw the movie The Post¬† a while back (worth watching) , and there is a lovely scene where Meryl Streep’s character is sitting in her glorious home in Washington DC, wearing a lovely nightgown, ¬†enjoying a coffee and reading a paper early in the morning, preparing for the day. I thought why do I not start the day like that, ¬†instead of me looking confused in a scrubby tee & pants trying to find something to wear that doesn’t need ironing?

While I still don’t look as glam as Meryl, at least my new routine is preparing coffees (I love you Nespresso) & sitting on the deck in the sunshine before logging on for the day. I’m planning on making some Carolyn PJ’s to get rid of the manky tees once and for all. I feel Meryl would ¬†approve.

Oh a headscarf you say…?

So dressing for work, when it involves a five second walk through the kitchen and sitting at the dining table all day?

I made my first Cashmerette Springfield top a few years ago now, perfect for using pretty fabric & ideal for wearing under another fav item, a nice cardigan. Now I know a cardi isn’t everyone’s cup of tea ( I’ve even heard “cardigan wearer” used as a term of derision) but I personally love them. Softer & more comfortable than a jacket, they can be chunky, pretty with embroidery, soft & snugly or cool in cotton.

So when Cashmerette brought out the Fuller Cardigan recently, I was very pleased. I had picked up some gorgeous merino from The Fabric Store recently (on sale) and some fab rayon in my favorite autumn colours from Spotlight, a whole outfit was forming.


The cardigan came together pretty quickly. Now I think we can see it isn’t perfect! My knit game is not as strong as it could be, and I’m continuing a hate hate relationship with my interfacing, but its still perfectly wearable (for me anyway) . I made View A, with a deep V, I don’t actually have any suitable buttons (and won’t be shopping for any in the near future) but to be honest I probably wouldn’t use them anyway.


The merino is quite lightweight, perfect for this time of year, when it’s just not quite warm enough (who am I kidding, it’s never hot enough for me until it’s too hot, I have about a 5 C margin of error ūüôā . The rayon in the singlet is also lightweight, the perfect layering outfit for Autumn or Spring. Or whatever temp you might be sitting inside in right now!

So if, like us here Downunder you are confined to barracks, what would be good to do while relaxing in your gorgeous knitwear? Whether you’re on your own & looking for something fun, or desperately trying to hide from the rest of your bubble before you throttle them? Or coming home exhausted working the front lines of the local Hospital/Supermarket/Pharmacy/Bus/Rubbish Truck?

Baking is always good (although we have a bit of a flour shortage her, clearly many internal domestic goddesses are being embraced) If you can get your hands on the white stuff, how about these Spinach & Cheese scones? The super easy DELICIOUS recipe is from a fabulous local bakery here in Auckland, get it here



If you are more of a sweet tooth, how about these? I used cranberries, pecans & dark chocolate, but I’d say the options are endless. Recipe by David Lebovitz here


So you’ve got your scone or cookie (actually we’d call that a biscuit here in NZ, but cookie does sound comforting doesn’t it?), now something to read?

I’ve just finished this fabulous book by Peter Swanson, it seems to have different titles in the UK or US, but either way, its a great twisty read, perfect if you like murder mysteries & that smug feeling when an author drops a sneaky reference to book you love…and you nod knowingly. Yes you do, don’t deny it…

Maybe watching is more you thing? If you are a mystery lover you might also like Knives Out, a film I saw about four months ago, and LOVED. A clever closed room murder mystery,  and Daniel Craig, need I say more?

Not a mystery buff? A show playing on UK television, that’s also been picked up here by TVNZ called The Repair Shop is bringing me (and my husband and I expect many others) so much joy . It’s TV the British do best, clever, low key & yet completely lovely & quietly emotional . If you can get through an episode with a quite happy tear or three you’re a better woman than I.

So much for natural colour…

Lastly, can I suggest embracing the headscarf? I don’t know about you but my lovely hairdresser is just a mirage in the distance, my current reality is a skunk stripe growing more noticeable by the day. I predict headscarves will be VERY in this season!

Hope where ever you are you are ok, managing what is a super anxious time & looking after yourself (or someone is looking after you!). I think our Prime Minister , definitely a woman you want to have in charge during a crisis, said it best…

Be Kind

Kristina x








With my Heart on my Sleeve, Cedar


This pose is called “I can’t find my sunglasses”…

Exercise. I love it in theory. I’ve even dabbled in it from time to time. Cycling at school (I wasn’t very good but I liked the outfits), a couple of Triathlons , where I discovered swimming laps is possibly the most boring thing in the world. A brief ill advised attempt at Step aerobic classes. It was a very fancy gym, there’s me smack in the middle of a huge room of Lycra clad zealots grapevining our hearts out. Sadly I lost control of my new Reeboks momentarily & lurched off the edge of my box, taking out the poor woman next to me. Obviously I never went back.

Fast forward many years and theirs me struggling over the Auckland Harbor bridge (OMG that thing goes on for ever) running 21 km despite having a perfectly good car. Why??! Even when reasonably fit I run like a woman two steps away from a full cardiac event. Add to that I foolishly decided to wear the event sponsor tee shirt, which was a smudge too short, so I spent 20.5 km pulling my top down, arrggh!

Cedar Dolman Top PDF pattern

But exercise does make us feel better. Well it does after you’ve done it anyway. Great for the heart, skin, muscles, mind, it’s all good. I just want to do it in such a way it doesn’t actually appear I’m doing it. A nice brisk walk, maybe a cheeky 20 mins on the stationery cycle , a few stretches to keep everything from getting too creaky. I want to be comfortable, but also look good , and not go anywhere near a Lululemon store.

Enter the Cashmerette Cedar Dolman  top. This deceptively simple wee number can be made either in woven or knit fabrics. It has dolman sleeves (surprise) , a facing on the neckline & hem, with the option of a cute tie detail.

Literally watching grass grow…

Now clearly I’m not a woman about to head out the door for a brisk 5 km. In fact I was off to lunch (now that’s something I’ll run for) , when I brought the pattern I didn’t have any suitable knit fabric, I did however have this lovely light cotton from¬†Drapers Fabrics. Perfect for a light casual top to throw over jeans, it would also give me the chance to test the sizing before I embarked on my active wear adventure.


I cut a size 18 Bust grading out to size 20 at the waist & hips. The pattern was a breeze to put together, the only alteration I made was to add an additional 4 “/10 cm to the sleeve, I wasn’t sure where it would hit my arm, but I’m really happy with the additional coverage, and will add the extra to my knit version also.

Slightly fitted but not tight

I cut a straight hem, for my knit version I’m going to try the cute tie detail. Actually it would also work with a woven, so watch this space. I’d also like to add width to the woven sleeves & insert some elastic for a cuff effect, like the¬†Montrose this is a simple top that can carry plenty of creative alterations.

For NZ peeps, Spotlight are having a cracking sale at the moment, behold this pile of beauties!

Lovely soft knits

These two are knits, the bottom will be a Cedar for wearing with my black leggings for walking, the top one, I’m not sure yet, but isn’t it cute!

Rayon for the win!

I love sewing rayon. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but these bold prints & colours really caught my eye. At least one will be another¬†Fringe¬†dress, the orange I’m thinking a Montrose for work with black pants & wedges, comfy but still fun.

It’s been super hectic few months so I’ve enjoyed getting back into my sewing room. That is the beauty of a nice quick project, sometimes you just want to do something simple and get it finished. When not sewing I’ve been out in the garden, with plenty of rain & sunshine everything is growing incredibly fast.

Rosa “St Pretty Sure it Was a Church”

Sadly I’m terrible at remembering plant names, I kept the label for this glorious rose in a very safe place…so safe I still can’t find it, but it was definitely a church of some kind…

Hmmm, this looks interesting…


Just hangin…

Oh to be as relaxed as a cat! ūüôā


Have a great week, I’m off to water the garden. Again.

Kristina x

We got there in the end Tacara…

Just hangin’ on my deck…

Now why , you may ask, am I standing on my deck on a very warm sunny evening in wool, boots AND a scarf. Other than “because I can” and “I’m still in love with my new fence” obviously.

The Seamwork Tacara¬†first came to my attention when it was discussed in the Curvy Sewing Collective as a good candidate for the Same Pattern Different Body ¬†post. I love these posts, it’s so helpful to see how a pattern works on a variety of shapes, what adjustments are made and also how each person styles their look.

I promptly went online , but while I loved the cocoon shape, and the myriad of ways it could be worn, there wasn’t actually a lot of pics of curvier sewers wearing a Tacara. Naturally I needed about two nano seconds to realize I wanted one of my own. Even better there is a SPDB post coming up at the CSC so if you are a curvy sewer be ready for plenty of inspiration!

What hem, I have no idea what you’re talking about…


So, how did it work out? Well, lets just say this garment is now known as the Dress of a Hundred Alterations. At least I had the sense to make a muslin for once!

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Hmmm, not perfect 

I made my first Tacara in a light rayon knit from Spotlight (good spotting, I have used it before ) While I ended up with a perfectly wearable dress, I felt like a bit of adjustment would make it much better.

The general consensus looking online is it comes up quite large, so I cut a size 16, adding 2 cm/1 inch to each sleeve as I was worried about cutting off circulation to my fingers! For reference my measurements are 44″/112 cm, 38″/99 cm & 48″/124 cm

Now, the pockets. Oh those pockets. I can only surmise this pattern was developed for someone with arms like my husband, loooong. Only he’s 6 ‘ 3″ and I’m not. They are crazy low. I literally had to stretch to get my mitts into them?

It all just felt (and looked) too big.

So, iteration two, this time in a gorgeous merino wool from The Fabric Store. I wont lie, I feel very spoilt having so many amazing fabric stores within easy reach, and to be able to treat myself occasionally.

Merino is a wonderful fabric, it breaths, drapes, keeps you warm & comes in the most glorious colours. It’s also quite spendy, so I didn’t want to mess this one up!

But it IS cocoon shaped, seriously!

Alterations, I’ve made a few (in my head I’m hearing Frank singing My Way!) . First up, I sized down , cutting out a 14 ( I’m an accountant, I’m used to manipulating figures, but me a 14, really???) . I reduced the bicep adjustment to 1 cm/1/2 “, and raised the pockets by a whopping 10 cm/4.5 “. Then I got a bit trigger happy and shaved another 4 cm off the length. Which I then realized was a tad to much to achieve a nice chunky hem. I didn’t want to sacrifice too much length so we have a lovely knee grazing dress with an ABOMINATION of a hem. More waves than a day at the beach, I apologize profusely.

Yep, no blue fingers here folks, complete ease of arm movement…

The sleeve actually needs to be reasonably snug, to balance the volume of the dress, but as someone who has suffered from the dreaded sausage arm syndrome, its a fine line, very dependent on your fabric. Make the muslin kids. Honestly.

Now, back to those bloody pockets (yes, I’d got a bit sweary by this stage). I was quite tempted to ditch them altogether. I’ve realized with the benefit of hindsight & a few wines the method described is probably perfect for use with a sewing machine, but for an overlocker (serger)? Not so much. After making an absolute Horlicks of my pockets, and unpicking them in a state of deeply bad karma, I found an online tutorial that made far more sense. Please save yourself the wine & do it this way.

Just shut up about the hem & keep taking the photo’s thanks …


I feel like this dress is a fabric version of Granddad’s hammer, new head, new handle, but it’s still his hammer right? I’ve altered so much of the pattern , but really to make it look like the picture & line drawings on the pattern which is what I liked so much in the first place!


While not without it’s tribulations, I’m actually really happy with the finished dress, its perfect for me at work, with boots & a cool scarf/necklace. It also works at the weekend over jeans , and I’ve realized with leggings, a big pashmina ¬†and slip on shoes this is THE travel outfit (when you live in NZ you travel LONG haul, it ¬†takes on a whole new meaning when you’re wearing something ¬†for over 24 hours to get to Europe)

This fabric ūüôā

Next up, a gorgeous Infinity scarf in this amazing Liberty ¬†jersey , I adore the colours and I love a scarf that doesn’t need lots of fiddling. I know it’s none of my beeswax but why do so many people wear black in winter when we have all these glorious colours & prints to wear??

Now, has anyone seen Tommy?

Hmm, did I shut the cat door down…?


Have a great week!

Kristina X










Concord my way (no highway involved)…


SO, the question. Why would you bother making a tee shirt? Surely if there is one item of clothing that can be found anywhere, in most sizes, its the humble tee?

Well, yes & no. You can find inexpensive tee shirts all over the place, but lets be honest, a $5 tee might seem cheap, but its costing somewhere. Be it child labour in back street sweat shops, cotton made in factories spewing crap into the environment, you get the picture.

Conversely, on of my sisters recently paid $140 for a tee shirt. Yes it was lovely ethically produced cotton, and yes, it looked fab, but my inner sewer couldn’t help but think wow, that’s a VERY simple shape!

Also tee shirts are very personal things. For me, the perfect version is “long enough”, which can vary, but never so short I feel like I need to pull it down to avoid muffin top flash (and God forbid never cropped, that ship sailed the same time my 501’s left town.) Sleeves should be elbow length, and snug but not so tight my arms look like strangled sausages. Because I have a larger bust, the necklines I prefer are a scoop, V or a nice boat neck. A high neck tee on me can look “mammaryish” for want of a better phrase!


Love these colours

Enter the Cashmerette Concord, a pattern I have had for ages, but never quite got around to making (I have to be in the mood for knits). It has a variety of options, from neckline, sleeve & length, which means I can have exactly the tee I want, every time.

This is actually the first make I have lined up for my Make Nine challenge for 2019 , check out mine & other fab sewists over on the Curvy Sewing Collective .

Yes, the lawn does need work, I don’t need reminding…

I chose View C, which is the longest tunic length, with a curved hem, elbow sleeves, and cute sleeve tabs. As I imagine all those Chefs on Food Network would put it, its “a tee, but with the volume turned up”!*

I’m actually admiring my new clothes line. I haven’t had one for FIVE years!

The fabric is a reasonably thick stretch cotton, next time I would probably go with something slightly lighter, I feel like it clings a little more than I like. I THINK it’s from Spotlight, but to be honest its been in my stash for yonks, so I’m not 100% sure. But I love the cute print, which is why I brought it !

This is a nice easy sew, even with the curved hem & the sleeve tabs. As usual with Cashmerette patterns the instructions & size range are excellent. I cut a 18 C/D bust, grading to a 20 waist and hip, mainly due to the “cling” factor of my fabric . My last Cashmerette ¬†make, the Pembroke was a 16 C/D in a much more stretchy fabric.

No strangled sausage happening here thank you very much…

The only alteration I made was to add approx. 5 cm (2 ‘ ) to the sleeve, using this method. Jenny now adds full bicep sleeves to some of her patterns but this one is a few years old. I have 16 ‘ biceps so it’s one I do often!


My twin stitching needs work, but I feel my neckline binding game is strong?


I actually really like the length, but I think it would work better in a lighter, slightly less clinging fabric, I’m ok with my lumps & bumps (or should I say curves & gradients, sounds better?!), but I don’t like to feel like an over stuffed sofa hey?


I already have my next Concord lined up, this time a striped version, with gold sparkles from Spotlight, who doesn’t need a bit of gold sparkle in their life, seriously?

It’s been an interesting week in the sewing community. A conversation blew up on Instagram (as things are wont to do on Social Media), about inclusive in patterns & pattern companies, the difficulties involved with plus size” patterns & it would seem, in plus size bodies…?

I made a short comment about my thoughts on Instagram here (ok, it was short because Instagram has a word limit on their posts.). I have a lot more thoughts on this one, but I’ve learnt from past experience sometimes its good to step back, let it all percolate & write from the informed perspective…as opposed the ragey Oh FFS give me a break one. I also cleaned & oiled my sewing machine & overlocker yesterday, so I clearly have some peak level adulting thing going on…

In the meantime, please check out Megan’s awesome post which has lots of food for thought and a great list of inclusive pattern companies**. Lets make our $$$ talk.

Now, I’ll leave you with this pic of my husband, we went shopping recently for outdoor furniture for our new deck. He LOVES watching movies, and decided this would be the perfect indoor lounging chair for his new 55″ TV. . I thought it was a bit big.



Please bear in mind he is 6″ 3″…

We didn’t buy the chair.

Have a lovely week! Its Auckland Anniversary day here so I’ve had a whole day off, and a four day week to follow, huzzah!


Kristina xxx


* My personal fav is Ina Garten. I want her house. And her Barn. And her life, basically.

**I intend to put this list on my blog permanently, I just need to consult a willing tech savvy young person to help me & ensure I don’t actually lose my mind doing so.



Well, Pembroke almost made Christmas…


Still staggered how much screws costs (says new deck owner)

Hello, Miri Kirihimete and almost Happy New Year to you. I’d like to pretend this is me swanning about on my new deck on Christmas Day.

Alas, firstly Christmas Day 2018 was WET here in Auckland. Despite the fancy new pergola our amazing builders worked like demons to get up in time for the 25th, the horizontal precipitation defeated us. Watching my husband & brother in law play Jenga with three sun umbrellas trying to provide additional shelter was pretty entertaining however…


Go West! Or North, in this case…

Secondly I hadn’t actually finished my Christmas Day dress. Or indeed started it (although I did pre-washed my fabric, does that count?) As per usual, my ambition far exceeded my time, skills & motivation.

But come these delicious quiet days between Christmas & New Year, where you have to consult a calendar to figure out what day it is, I figured I could get busy. Half of Auckland has left town, the fridge is full of leftovers & I can can sew my heart out.

Just hangin’ on my deck, as you do. Actually we have no deck furniture so standing is obligatory.

After the success of my Pembroke trial run, ¬†I knew a dress version in the rayon knit I picked up from Spotlight was perfect. Festive, without actually being covered in elf’s & holly (not that I would object to that AT ALL), stretchy (always a bonus when contemplating that 5th mince pie), and quick to sew. Ok, not quick enough for me to get it done in time for Christmas day, but still pretty darn speedy eh?

Tommy being ultra cute off camera

I love this pattern. The scoop neckline is perfect for me (the pattern also comes with a higher jewel neckline that would be great for cooler weather), and the method of binding is wonderfully non tear inducing. ¬†I personally really like the waist ties, being short waisted they pull me in at my slimmest part, so I don’t feel frumpy, but I’ve seen some really cute versions without.

Ties call for fiddling…


Please excuse the slightly wobbly hemming, lordy I hate hemming knits. I hate hemming in general but knits, with a side split? Ekk! So worth it though, with such a simple shape it’s the details that make the difference, even if I do need a glass of Chardonnay each time I use my twin needles.

Well, that would be a booty call I believe…?

Once again I took approx. 5 cm off the sleeves before adding the cuffs, I prefer the length just below my elbows.

All in all, the prefect summer Xmas/Festive frock.

I look like I’m “up to mischief” according to my husband?!

So, my last make for 2018. Its been a busy year, both in the sewing room & out. While I’m pretty happy with progress, there is a lot to learn in 2019. Without turning into a whole “lets lose weight, learn a language & discover yoga” type of conversation, a couple of thoughts:

Learn to use the myriad of special feet I brought when I brought my Janome. No, the button hole foot does not count.

Properly measure and label my fabric stash. All of it, not just the top six pieces…before wandering off to watch Food Network.

Use at least two of the patterns in my stash before buying another one. At least. Or at least one. Or none but only on VERY special occasions. Ditto fabric .

Remember, if I like it, make it. Bugger “flattering”.

Finish the bloody novel!

Other thoughts ?

Favorite make of 2018: ¬†I’ve made lots of things I’m really happy with this year, but I do really love these frocks!

Best TV Show of 2018 (nothing to do with sewing but hey ho , it’s my blog kids): The Casketeers, a NZ show now on Netflix. It’s a reality documentary following a funeral home in South Auckland. I realize probably none of that sounds completely endearing, but trust me, this is TV gold. I have literally cried buckets & laughed my arse off in the space of five minutes. Note the show is in English, with few subtitles.

Fav pic of the year not including me standing like a dork:¬†This is two of my sisters when we were on holiday in Australia at Easter. This is everything really ūüôā

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Best book of 2018: Jane Harper’s The Dry kept me absolutely turn the pages ¬†(or flicking the Kindle, as it were). SUCH a great book (as are her two others).

Best cat pic of the year: Yep, this really is my blog kids! Check out Tommy, roaring his way into 2019!


Now, let’s you & I do the same!

Kristina x











Pembroke into Christmas…


Hello! Why yes it is me standing in front of my Christmas tree posing like a dork again. It’s pouring with rain here today. Big, fat rain, warm & very very wet. Mother Nature put my Xmas lights to shame on Friday, lightening & thunder for ages, sun yesterday, precipitation today. Welcome to an Auckland summer yes?


I absolutely should be out Christmas shopping, but just the thought of trying to park makes me want to lie down in a darkened room, let alone the actual shops. I did manage to get myself to Spotlight last week, I’m pretty sure it was to buy something on my list? Who knows. What I DID buy was some rather delicious rayon knit. 40% off no less! Plus I had a spend $100 get $40 off voucher. Honestly, its surely some kind of crime not to use those kind of discounts. If not , it certainly should be.


For once I did actually have a pattern in mind when I brought my fabric. I tested the Pembroke pattern from Cashmerette , to be honest I didn’t make a great fabric choice, and the pattern needing tweaking, my resulting garment was not as fabulous as it could have been.

It was yonks ago ( which is encouraging to be honest, if I’m going to the expense & time of testing a pattern, its nice to know the feedback is actually being used and if necessary, acted on) Jenny sends a complimentary final pattern to her testers when it’s released (yay !) , mine was a lovely surprise and arrived coming into Summer. I’ve been seeing lots of fab Northern Hemisphere versions in really snugly cosy knits , but I knew I needed something much lighter & with way more stretch (it’s Xmas, I’m eating mince pies for breakfast hey!?)

I cant even remember how many lists I have on the go right now…

I’ve not had huge success sewing knits, I think I peaked with my Turner dress, but for some reason I tend to stick to wovens. Nothing like a bargain to change my mind!

Now there was also method to my madness. I picked up another gorgeous knit, in what I thought was rather festive colours. Now who doesn’t want a new Christmas Day dress? We have the whaneu to ours on Xmas day, so I want something cute but also practical, I have turkey, beef, ham & a cocktail to wrangle after all…

Yes, I do pre-wash my fabric!

Being a wonderful combination of lazy but also stubborn (yes, I am a Taurus actually) , I was determined to have a fab Xmas day frock, without spending too much time making it. The Pembroke was an experiment, it was actually meant to be a dress , but I didn’t have quite enough fabric.

Yep, my cats do have their own stockings “kay…

A tunic is fun, and also adaptable. With leggings & sneakers , perfect for the supermarket run. With jeans & sandals great for the pub/shopping/lunch.

I cut a 16 Bust, grading to a 20 waist & hips, with no alteration to the bicep (yess!). I made the scoop neck, with mid length cuffed sleeves. The neckline is probably more scooped than it should be as I had a major brain fart attaching the neckline binding & did it around the wrong way. Rather than unpick (??!), I cut the offending binding off & attached a new one. Boom!

Cuff love…

I chopped about 2 cm off the sleeve before adding the cuff, I think its a good length.

Binding love…

The ties are optional. but I like the shape they give in a lighter knit.

So, Xmas sewing for me, anyone else?


For my brother in law, a tee shirt in cool pale blue linen. I’ve had to buy the navy shorts to go with, expectations meet reality , that Christmas Feeling!

Laundered linen with rib

For my sister, after seeing my linen Fielder she decided  she wanted one to, I brought the fabric for her birthday, now I have a deadline, Xmas Day dress!

My photographer telling me “do something with your mouth & eyes”…

Whatever you celebrate , I hope you are having a great run into the season. If this time of year is harder I hope you are doing ok too. My Dad was diagnosed with aggressive cancer in October of 2010. He LOVED Christmas, and while we didn’t have huge means financially (five kids will do that to you Dad!) we have always celebrated royally. He got very sick very fast & passed away in January 2011. Xmas is a always tinged with that “gap”, but as I was once told, “missing someone special means lucky you, you had someone special to miss”. Sure did .

Now, whats it to be?  Turner or Pembroke for Xmas Day???

Kristina x




Turner for the weekend

‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now…

Well who could resist those feathers? After the debacle that was my attempt at pants, I really needed a successful sew to get me back on track. Something I could whip up in a weekend, wear to work Monday & not mess up . Or mess up much anyway…


Hello Turner dress! Now I’ll be totally honest, I brought this pattern on a whim. I was re watching a movie about the life of the British artist J M Turner, after a lovely day fabric shopping and lunching with a girlfriend. This perfect feather print knit was too good to resist ,clearly some random synapse fired somewhere in my pea brain & I remembered one of my fav pattern companies Cashmerette ¬†had a pattern that would make the most of my purchase. Turns out I was actually thinking of the Upton, which is made with woven fabric but there you go…!

Ok, not fully convinced when the pattern arrived. I just wasn’t sure the “skater” style dress was right for me. After making a Tilly & the Buttons Bettine dress¬†with its elastic gathering around the middle, I swore off anything that drew attention to my waist. Not only did I feel like Mrs Frumpy, the elastic kept riding up, causing me to adjust….I abhor wearing anything that requires “adjust”.

I love feathers, look, I can do them with my hands…!

But a long weekend (a extra day to sew direct from the Queen,¬†whoop!) , my husband taking the car to visit his parents and a lather of indecision from moi meant I ended up sewing by default . Suitable Blue thread in the over-locker? ¬†tick. No zips, button etc I need to purchase? ¬†tick. Surely even I cant bugger up a pattern with four pieces? tick. Um….

So maybe pinning your sleeve at 9.30 pm after a couple of wines isn’t such a great idea…?

I managed to sew my sleeve on inside out (there may have been Chardonnay involved…), luckily for me I cut the sleeve a size 18, so trimming off the overlocking (if I ever meet the person who can actually unpick overlocking I’ll suggest they do do something easier like cure the common cold) still left me enough fabric to play with. Phew!

Swing! And I really must clean that deck…(its Winter here ‘kay!?)

Silly mistakes aside, this was actually a pretty easy sew. The Turner sewalong on the Cashmerette site is a real help. I haven’t done a lot of knit sewing, so any advice is always welcome particularly if, like me, you like a visual reference.

The pattern booklet is nice & clear, combined with the sewalong its hard to go wrong . I particularly appreciated the advice on grading, I ended up making a 16 bust, graded to a 20 waist & hips, with size 18 sleeves. Try finding that in RTW!??

This is effectively a wearable muslin. I totally admire sewists who make multiple muslin’s of patterns to get the fit just so. I also have enough self awareness to realize I’m not that person. Two muslin’s in & I’d be biffing that garment as far as I could, no matter how much I loved the pattern.

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Sneaky waist darts, because I’m the Rebel of the Sewing Room….

So when I attached the bodice to the skirt, with elastic to stabilize the knit I knew I had to go a little off piste. The waist was a good 3 cm too low (I’m very short waisted ) and about 2 cm to big. Also the elastic I used, a thicker woven because I’ve never seen clear elastic here in NZ, made the waist line all bobbly , even after ironing.

So once again I hacked off the overlocked elastic (seeing a theme here?), took a concrete pill & chopped a good 2 cm off the bodice. I knew I had to finish up with the feather over my right boob about a cm above the waist seam. Yep, that scientific…

After doing that I realized I would like to pinch the fabric in under my bust a little for a nice shape. I thought maybe a couple of small darts to pull the excess fabric in? Dear reader I actually googled “are darts done on knit fabric”. Even though I thought my dress looked nicer with the fabric pulled in, I still had to check with the internet brains to check it was actually acceptable….?! Thankfully I gave myself a good talking too & went ahead & did it anyway! Yep, I’m a rebel & I really never will be any good ….I think I could go down a size to 18 in my grading next time which would eliminate this issue going fwd. Possibly also with a narrow shoulder adjustment. Thank goodness for tracing patterns…

Never really got a handle on pattern matching then….

Would I recommend this pattern? Heck yeah, it’s an easy sew, the dress is so comfortable, the sleeve variation is great (hello holiday to the USA late this year…), its a keeper. The V neck may be a little low for some, I personally am fine with a hint of cleavage!

My photographer playing silly buggers!

Have you sewn a Turner? I shall be making more…

Kristina xxx

Another day, another Dartmouth

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I’ve just realized I dont need to iron this top….oh yeah!

In what could well be a first, I not only made a muslin, I then took onboard some advice & altered my pattern for the next make. What a difference it makes!

While I¬†was actually pretty happy with my¬†first Dartmouth¬†, ¬†it was a wee bit loose around the bust. I am often bang on pattern waist & hip measurements, but slightly smaller in the bust. In this instance the difference was exactly one size, so I put my big girl pants on & bravely graded between the bust & waist. Actually it wasn’t particularly tricky, I just drew a (hopefully curvy not wobbly ?) line between size 16 down to 18 at the waist. I think it worked a treat!

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Well it made sense to me…

The fabric is a sumptuous drape ¬†Liberty¬†jersey¬†in a wonderful “splatter” print.¬†Now I wont lie, this fabric is pricey. Enough to make me take the trouble to get my fit right before I cut into it, even then I had to have a few sips of Chardonnay to get me on my way (just a few sips, sewing while lashed will generally always end in tears/lacerations)

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Just standing around in heels in the garden as you do…

I’m thrilled with the result. Ironing? In my house that’s Mr PK on his special ultra tall & wide American ironing board ¬†, slowing (glacially!!) doing his shirts watching NRL on a Sunday (you should have seen his face when I slipped my new fav dress¬†onto the ironing pile) . Me at 7 am? Jersey please. A perfect top for work with nice pants , or the weekend with jeans. I love the higher neckline,¬†flattering but totally work appropriate for a law firm. I like the length, ¬†long enough for no ride up issues as I ¬†dont tend to tuck, but with skirts it might work a little shorter.

More jersey please!?

Kristina xxx


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P.S What I do when I’m not sewing/baking/dodging housework? Make headboards of course. This weekends project, a one day¬†workshop with my BFF, so much fun! If your in NZ check out Mollies Make & Create¬†for details.